The November 8 launch of the new Aeroplan program is fast approaching, and as of today there is some additional news to share in terms of how this migration will actually take place.
Generally speaking, the majority of Aeroplan’s features and functionalities will become unavailable starting the evening of Friday, November 6, 2020, until the new program’s launch on the afternoon of Sunday, November 8, 2020. November 6 will therefore mark the last day that it’s possible to book awards under the current Aeroplan program.
There are some other details to share around non-air rewards, upgrade awards, Aeroplan Elite Status, and more. You can find the official details on the Air Canada website, and we’ll walk through the details in this post.
Book Aeroplan Awards Before November 6
My previous article highlighting the soon-to-be-discontinued sweet spots of the current Aeroplan program was titled “What to Book Before November 8”. Well, that deadline will need to be changed to November 6, because that’ll be the last date to make new flight bookings before the program goes offline for a two-day transition period.
Between the evening of November 6 and the afternoon of November 8, it will not be possible to make new flight bookings or make changes or cancellations to an existing award.
(If an Aeroplan member is travelling and needs immediate support, however, that will be available via the contact centre.)
It’s definitely going to be a good idea to get your pre-transition bookings sorted out well before November 6, if possible, and also to ensure you’ve gotten any changes or cancellations done before November 8, especially if you plan to be travelling on Aeroplan awards around that period. Remember, both before and after the transition, Aeroplan will be offering free cancellations as well as a “one free change” policy until December 31.
Since Aeroplan awards can be booked at most 355 days out, this means that October 27, 2021 will the day by which all travel must be completed if you’re booking an award under the current rules.
I’m sure we’ll all be taking a close look over the next couple of weeks at lining up some 2021 trips under the current Aeroplan rules – even if they may be speculative by nature. In fact, I’d recommend that you get your ducks in a row well before November 6 if possible, as the contact centre will surely be inundated with extremely long hold times as we get closer and closer to the evening of November 6.
Be sure to review the list of sweet spots that will be going away, and as always, feel free to ask for help in determining if your upcoming 2021 travels would be cheaper if booked under the current rules or if you’re better off waiting for the new program’s launch.
Transition Details for Other Aeroplan Features
Several other features will be down during Aeroplan’s moving period, some of which will come to an end even sooner than November 6 in order to ensure a seamless transition.
Some of the most important temporary suspensions include the following:
- Account management: Between the evening of November 6 and the afternoon of November 8, it will not be possible to enroll in a new Aeroplan account, make changes to your account profile, or merge two accounts into one. Starting November 8, these functionalities will become an integrated part of the new aircanada.com website.
- Earning points with partners: Between October 30 and November 9, there will be a delay in the crediting of Aeroplan points for any activity you complete with an Aeroplan partner (such as shopping at Home Hardware, making purchases through the eStore, or having a credit card statement post to your account). Beginning November 10, the normal pace of points crediting will resume as usual.
- Converting points from partners: Between the evening of November 6 and the afternoon of November 8, it won’t be possible to convert points to Aeroplan from partner programs like Amex Membership Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy. It’s unclear whether the partners will temporarily suspend the ability to convert to Aeroplan, or if the conversions would simply be delayed until November 8. Either way, as of November 8 the ability to convert points will be restored at the same ratios as today (1:1 from Amex MR, 60,000:25,000 from Marriott Bonvoy, etc.)
- AC Bid Upgrades: Between the evening of November 6 and the afternoon of November 8, the ability to use Aeroplan miles to bid for upgrades on Air Canada flights will not be offered. Air Canada commits to proactively reviewing upgrades requested with Aeroplan miles in advance of this downtime; in the meantime, the ability to use cash to bid for upgrades will still be online as usual.
- Star Alliance Upgrade Awards: When the details of the new Aeroplan first launched, Air Canada had said that a new reward chart for Star Alliance Upgrade Awards would be released in due course. In fact, Aeroplan’s Star Alliance Upgrade Awards program will be suspended starting on November 1 for the rest of 2020, and will only be reintroduced later in 2021.
In regards to the decision to suspend the Star Alliance Upgrade Awards program, Air Canada stated the following:
We made the difficult choice to temporarily pause Star Alliance Upgrade Awards to allow for more focus on the implementation of new program features. This decision was reinforced by lower international travel demand as a result of COVID-19, and a related drop in demand for SAUA. We’re eager to reintroduce this product later in 2021. In the meantime, take note that Star Alliance Upgrade Awards will continue to be available on Air Canada flights for members of partner frequent flyer programs.
If you plan to redeem Aeroplan miles for an upgrade on a Star Alliance partner flight under the current Star Alliance Upgrade Awards chart (perhaps by taking advantage of an excellent sweet spot for upgrading EVA Air economy class tickets into EVA Air business class), you’ll have to take action by October 31.
Finally, a few other Aeroplan features will also experience downtime, although these usually don’t represent the best value and you probably wouldn’t be scrambling to redeem Aeroplan miles through them anyway:
- Between November 1 and November 8, car and hotel rewards will not be available with Aeroplan miles. The last day to use Aeroplan miles to book a car rental or hotel is October 31.
- Between November 6 and November 8, activities, gift cards, and merchandise will not be available with Aeroplan miles. The last day to exchange Aeroplan miles for activities, gift cards, and merchandise is November 5.
Transition Details for Aeroplan Elite Status
Air Canada Altitude will be transforming into Aeroplan Elite Status as of the new program’s launch. As part of this transition, there are a few housekeeping items that elite members should take care of beforehand, and there will also be more information to come about what the Elite Status program looks like in 2021.
- October 31 will be the last day to choose your Select Privileges for 2020 if you haven’t done so already, which can be done in the Air Canada Altitude dashboard.
- November 6 will be the last day to redeem Priority Rewards in their current form for Aeroplan 35K, 50K, 75K, and Super Elite members. Super Elite members in particular will want to think carefully about using their all-powerful Priority Rewards, which can access a far greater pool of Air Canada business class availability at the same cost as regular awards, as much as possible on future flight bookings.
- Remember, as of November 8, Aeroplan 35K members and above will receive an allotment of new Priority Rewards that they can redeem for an instant 50% discount on awards under the new Aeroplan.
- If you qualify for a higher level of Aeroplan Elite Status after October 31, you can expect your status to be updated by the week of November 15, 2020. Aeroplan 35K members and above will also receive their new Elite Status membership kit, with brand new elite card designs, before the end of this year.
- If you reach a Status Qualifying Mile (SQM) or Status Qualifying Segment (SQS) threshold which is eligible for a Threshold Gift or Threshold eUpgrades after October 31, you may experience a delay of up to three weeks before receiving your reward.
Many details about what the Aeroplan Elite Status program will look like in 2021 (such as what the new Select Privileges look like, or how elite members’ earning boosts might relate to the new points earning rates on paid flights) have yet to be confirmed, and it’s my understanding that these details will be announced shortly.
Transition Details for Aeroplan Credit Cards
Finally, there are a few details to mention in terms of the Aeroplan credit cards as well, although there is very little action required on your part (well, besides applying for the new cards when they launch as of November 8!)
Existing cardholders will be able to use their cards normally throughout the transition. The terms and benefits of the card will remain in their current form until November 7; as of November 8, the new benefits will kick in, allowing you to immediately use your card for free checked bags on Air Canada flights, priority airport services, Maple Leaf Lounge access, etc.
Any supplementary cardholders will also be able to link their cards to their own Aeroplan accounts as of November 8 and start enjoying shared Air Canada benefits as supplementary cardholders.
Aeroplan will experience a two-day period of downtime on the weekend of November 6–8 as it moves to its new home on the Air Canada website. During this period, key features such as flight rewards, earning points, account management, etc. will all experience interruption, so now’s the time to get all our pre-devaluation bookings finalized and housekeeping items completed before the big transition happens.